HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Public access advocates say the Ko Olina Resort is using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict beach access.
“Basically, you have a private entity stopping public access to a public beach. And this is wrong," said John Shockley, of the Free Access Coalition. “This is something we cannot tolerate. The people need to step forward and say, ‘Hey we have a right to the beaches.’”
While Ko Olina’s beaches were reopened last month, the resort’s public parking lots have remained closed.
Beachgoers now have to be dropped off by friends or family or take an Uber or Lyft to the beach. Or they have to park outside the resort and hike at least a mile in to get to the beaches.
But the resort says it is not trying to restrict access.
It said it needs more time to make sure their property is safe for reopening, adding that the costs to operate and maintain the beaches, coves and parking lots are significant.
In an email, a resort spokeswoman said:
“We will re-open our public parking lots when we can be assured the risk of infection is under control and we are confident we can implement required protocols, safeguards and preventative practices."
But Shockley said the closed parking lots violate a longstanding requirement worked out with the city that the resort provide parking for the public.
He added that in August, the city told the resort that it’s required to keep the parking lots open to the public so long as the beaches are open.
“The original agreement, which is in force today, is that those parking lots, those coves, remain open to the public regardless of whether they are having hotel problems,” he said.